The point behind the argument about the Iran nuclear deal goes beyond precise nuclear facts. It is like the row over SALT II when Ronald Reagan succeeded Jimmy Carter as US President in 1981. SALT (the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty) was not formally junked, but it did not operate because, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan at the end of 1979, the Americans felt the necessary trust was absent. Better times, including the coming of Mikhail Gorbachev, allowed Reagan to pursue negotiations which culminated (under his successor, the first George Bush) in START I (the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) being signed in 1991. By then, the United States and its Nato allies had backed huge changes in the Soviet bloc and won the Cold War. The Obama Iran deal resembles SALT in the 1970s — a western concession not matched by real change in the attitudes of the other side. In 1987, Reagan famously stood in Berlin and said, ‘Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’ There has been no equivalent western attempt today to back the millions of Iranians who want to return to the principles of the country’s liberal constitution of 1906 and reject their Islamist theocracy. The West lets the regime isolate them. Once a week, crowds organised by the Iranian state chant ‘Death to America!’ and ‘Death to Israel!’ The ayatollahs promote the aims expressed in those slogans wherever they can, unpunished. Surely President Trump’s revolt against this is right.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes, which appears in this week’s Spectator